The University of Melbourne and Deakin University have released a research report evaluating the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program and confirmed that it has created positive health behaviour change in primary school children.
The study was carried out over two years assessing 770 children’s change in attitude, behaviour and knowledge of food. Interviews with 562 parents and 93 teachers were also conducted.
Results revealed there was a significant increase in children’s willingness to try new foods, with 39 per cent of children reporting they would always try new foods, compared with 26 per cent at the start of the program.
Seventy-one per cent of children in participating schools reported they enjoyed cooking, compared with just 50 per cent at non-participating schools.
Principal investigator from the University of Melbourne Dr Lisa Gibbs said the flow on effect of this program is significant stating that forty-one per cent of parents in the survey claimed their children asked them to cook food they had made at school.
“Teachers are also seeing a noticeable difference in the nutritional quality of food that children had been bringing to school for snacks and lunches since the program had been introduced.”
“Teachers also reported they were able to engage children in the program who had previously been disinterested in school.”
Cook, restaurateur and food writer Stephanie Alexander said a fundamental aim of the program has always been to show children the benefits of healthy food preparation and how it can become part of their every day lives.
“As adults we’re all very conscious of the traditional health messages that we’re inundated with daily, and when developing this program we really wanted to show Australia’s future mums and dads that learning about healthy food choices can be fun, enjoyable and taste good.
“This study is a real indication that children are benefitting from our innovative approach – growing, harvesting, preparing and sharing, and we’re looking forward to expanding the program further to allow more children to experience the Foundation’s pleasurable food education philosophy,” she says.